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Deschamps: 'Balotelli among best'

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Didier Deschamps expects Italy to be “motivated” against France and believes Mario Balotelli “is one of the best European forwards.”

The friendly kicks off in Nice tomorrow at 20.00 UK time (19.00 GMT) and the 35,500-seater arena is sold out.

“I am very satisfied with what we’ve seen so far, though there are other steps to make as we approach the World Cup in Russia and the first is against Italy,” said Coach Deschamps in his Press conference.

While Les Bleus are preparing for the tournament, Italy won’t be there and start a new era under Roberto Mancini.

“Naturally, Mancini’s objective tomorrow is not the same as mine. We are preparing for what will happen afterwards. It is sad to see a World Cup without Italy, but that is the verdict given by the pitch.

“Considering what is represented by Italian football, the media, fans and their passion, Italy play a very important part in international competitions.”

New CT Mancini made his debut in Monday’s 2-1 friendly victory over Saudi Arabia in St Gallen.

“I watched that game and obviously we observed Italy. They have a group of 26 players, we could see some changes tomorrow.

“Saudi Arabia were pretty surprising in their performance too, but Italy will have a different motivation tomorrow, as they always do when facing France.”

The game is played at the Allianz Riviera in Nice, the home of Azzurri striker Balotelli for the last two seasons.

SuperMario made his comeback to the Italy squad after four years and immediately found the net against Saudi Arabia.

“Balotelli is a top level striker. Perhaps he hasn’t always performed to this consistency, but he has quality and athleticism beyond the norm and can make the difference with a single move. He is one of the best European forwards.”

See the latest Serie A predictions and betting tips with Eurotips.co.uk

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